This post is by Dan Ryan, Long Island Walk Now for Autism Speaks co-chair and co-corporate chair. Dan shares his thoughts on the recent volunteer leadership conference.
I have been to all of the leadership conferences. I served on the national Board at NAAR until we merged with Autism Speaks. I also helped to launch Autism Speaks Young Professionals in New York with Amanda Neiderauer, which has now expanded to other big cities.
The conference has always been inspiring time for me. It's great to see such a passionate group of people get together and share thoughts and ideas. To share what has worked and help each other try to maximize our walks and events.
The children are my inspiration! Watching videos and hearing stories of what Autism Speaks has done in the past year and what is planned for the future puts a bounce in my step. It allows me to go back and get everyone else excited and gives them new energy to reach or, hopefully surpass their own personal goals.
This year the conference was a little different. It was the first Autism Speaks conference without Mark Roithmayr, someone who most of us love and adore. He is family to me. We met Liz Feld, and as Mark promised we, and especially our kids are in great hands. I look forward to a great working relationship with Liz and hopefully my son will gain an Aunt because he is keeping Uncle Mark.
The key takeaway for me was that we are giving back more to our communities in a way that the families can see it better. We always gave back, but now we have some financial ability to sponsor events for kids affected today such as movies, bounce houses, play dates and even bowling. This, in my eyes will actually help us bring the community closer and in the end raise more money.